SaaS as the Outcome of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
According to professor Schwab Klaus we are witnessing the fourth industrial revolution, a period when “new technologies are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, and impacting all disciplines, economies and industries” .
Cloud-based solutions, also known as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), are a good example of the benefits that SME’s get from this “digital revolution”.
Only a decade ago no small or medium-sized company could think about having a piece of corporate-level software that would make various business related processes much more effective and, as a result, cheaper. Today you have countless of cloud-based solutions that help to run business smarter.
The following is a list of different ways modern SaaS technologies makes SME’s businesses better off.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) allows easy access and information management regarding current customers, interactions, first-contact sources, potential customers, lead “temperature” and much more.
Manufacturing CRM is a great tool for sales teams where each potential customer can be lead through the sales pipeline and nurtured in the future which results in better customer satisfaction on one side and more closed clients on the other.
The most popular SaaS CRM is Salesforce while there are also more specific solutions that are better serving particular industries like MRPEasy which, among other tools, offers a great CRM for manufacturing SME’s.
Security is Not Your Concern
Not having to host and maintain the software and the whole infrastructure on your own means better security due to two simple facts:
- You and your company’s personnel don’t have access to the actual core files of software, including the databases – and none of your competitors do either.
Besides, it’s software vendor’s main priority to make sure that the service is 100% secured – not yours.
- Always up-to-date. No more paid upgrades of the software or servers like it used to be when dealing with on-premises solutions. You no longer have to worry about timely security updates or patches – with SaaS solutions, this has been taken care of, at no extra cost.
So unless you operate outside of an internet penetration area, security-wise it is always better to rely on proven SaaS vendors than self-hosted on-premises solutions. Still, keep in mind that human factor remains the weakest link of the whole infrastructure.
One of the main features of the fourth industrial revolution is that it makes the newest technology much more accessible to the mass market.
Various SaaS platforms for SME’s are no exception. While the price tag of complex legacy solutions can easily be in the $100,000’s, then more simple SaaS solutions are easily available even to smaller companies with the price tags starting from $9-49 per user/month.
Thanks to the “digital age” the expensive technology that used to be a commodity that only big corporations could afford, is now a common practice of modern small and medium businesses.
Performance & Cost Tracking
It doesn’t matter if your are a purely services company where your available man hours is the main resource or if you are a manufacturer producing tangible goods, where you have to allocate materials and machinery – accurate performance tracking is one of the main areas where SaaS solutions can bring a great impact on your business in terms of decreased costs, as well as not missed opportunities.
If you know exactly how many available resources you have on hand and how many is required to perform a certain job, then you can easily estimate costs and timeframes – this not only gives you a strong competitive advantage when you need to provide a quote to a client faster than your competitors, but can also optimize all the processes to their maximum efficiency.
Also, smart and real-time performance tracking allows you to identify and manage weak spots in your workflow, – be it unproductive people, bottlenecks in the production process, or resources is not being used at full potential.
Real Time Integrations (API)
Most cloud-based services offer an API (Application Programming Interface) which makes it possible to integrate various solutions without having to input and process the data separately.
The fact is that all-in-one solutions cannot be the best in all areas, like CRM and finances or manufacturing – this is the reason why businesses often prefer to select the best ones in each class and API’s make simultaneous use possible.
The main idea behind having everything in the “cloud” is that all can be easily accessed on any device – anywhere where you have a stable-enough internet connection. Not only does this allows full mobility, but it also results in other benefits, like drastically lower costs, better security and, of course, much more efficient business management.
The fact that you can access and manage the most important business data anytime means that you have much better control over the processes as well as the ability to react quicker to various obstacles which results in more opportunities and less chances for critical problems when timely reaction is essentially important.
For sure we are living in an interesting time where information and technology provides us with great new possibilities. Cloud-based services are just one example of how smaller companies can gain access to the same technology as big corporations, which has never been possible before.
We at MRPEasy are doing our best to leave our own footprint in this revolution by trying to bring affordable top-of-the-class SaaS solutions to the manufacturing industry.
 Schwab, Klaus (January 11, 2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. ISBN 1944835008.
 Image: Jake Sherrill, Tier 4 Advisors.